Taking care of senior parents is not easy, so it’s normal to become frustrated sometimes. The problem is that the frustration can sometimes take over our choice of words. This is when we say things that we probably shouldn’t, and that causes some relationship issues that make the situation worse. The following are some of the things you probably shouldn’t say, even out of frustration. It’s hoped that by having this fresh in your mind, it will help you preserve your relationship.
#1: Don’t you remember?!
It’s likely your parents do not remember it, and probably not a lot of other things. When people say this, it’s almost saying the person is inadequate for not remembering.
It’s better to say, “Let me tell you what happened.” You can also just take the queue from the confused look on your parent’s face and go ahead and clue him/her in.
#2: Don’t say you can’t because you can. You just need to try.
I know…you’ve probably said it and you didn’t really intend on it turning out the way it did. It’s okay. The good thing about life is that you can move on with new knowledge and make different choices in the future.
What you can say instead is, “Why don’t we do it together?” or “Let me help you.” You can then gauge how much he/she can do and step back if he/she needs less help.
#3: Ugh…I just showed you yesterday. Here…I’ll show you AGAIN.
You may have showed your senior parent countless times how to use the remote, but he/she still doesn’t get it. It’s okay because that’s normal. Taking the time to teach them again means that you’re teaching him/her a little more each time.
What might be good to try is to write down the instructions. This way your parent can refer to it when needed.
#4: That has nothing to do with what I just said.
Seniors often have a difficult time focusing on conversations. Sometimes, they want to say something before they forget, which means it could be out of context. Try to go with the flow and if possible, bring up what you were trying to talk to him/her about later on in the day.
#5: You already told me that story a billion times.
Many people (not just seniors) have a hard time remembering who they told what. Seniors, especially those with dementia, have a more difficult time.
Instead of telling your parent he/she already told you, it’s better to say, “Oh yes, I remember. That was so funny!” You can also just go ahead and listen. Patience is a virtue.
#6: This is what I want when you die.
Some people don’t see anything wrong with saying this, and some even see it as a compliment. However, it does hurt some seniors to hear that loved ones are waiting for them to die. It’s best to keep this to yourself, even if you are coming from a good place with it.
Let Go of Guilt and Move On
If you’ve said any of these statements, don’t worry. Do not beat yourself up over it. We are all human and as humans, we make mistakes. Learn from those mistakes and live a better life.
As a personal consultant, I often help caregivers deal with senior parents. If you need help, please contact Kendall Van Blarcom for a personal consulting session. He can help you and your senior get along and make this stage of life an enjoyable one for both of you.